Gender Differences among Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth in Israel

Guy Shilo*, Heidi Preis, Einat Peled

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research on commercial sexual exploitation (COMSE) of youth tends to focus on young females as victims, and much less is known about male and transgender commercially sexually exploited youth (COMSEY). Understanding the psychosocial background and past COMSE experiences among COMSEY is important to provide support for gender-specific or gender-inclusive interventions for COMSEY. The study included 57 cisgender females, 40 males and 23 transgender females who received services from a multi-module programme for COMSEY in Israel. Case managers provided data on the youth regarding background characteristics, health variables and COMSE experiences prior to entering the service. The youth had similar rates in most psychosocial background characteristics, including being a victim of abuse. Cisgender females were less likely than cisgender males and transgender females to be from an ethnic minority and more likely to have been in out-of-home placement. Past experiences of COMSE were also similar between genders, though cisgender females were less involved in street prostitution and more likely to have been sexually abused during COMSE. The findings provide support for a gender-inclusive approach to intervention with COMSEY and call for re-consideration of present gender-specific interventions in this domain. Further research on intervention with COMSEY is needed, specifically regarding male and transgender COMSEY. ‘The study included 57 cisgender females, 40 males and 23 transgender females who received services from a multi-module programme for COMSEY in Israel’. Key Practitioner Messages: Youth who sell or swap sex have troubled pasts, regardless of their gender. There are more similarities than differences in psychosocial backgrounds and past sexual exploitation experiences between cisgender females, cisgender males and transgender females. Empirical evidence to support the need for gender-specific intervention was not demonstrated among these youth. Gender-inclusive interventions may be an appropriate approach and will promote access to treatment for all commercially exploited youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-47
Number of pages16
JournalChild Abuse Review
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

Funding

FundersFunder number
Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services

    Keywords

    • at-risk youth
    • commercial sexual exploitation
    • gender differences
    • sex trafficked youth

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